Five Takeaways: Short Three Starters, Clippers Lose To Nuggets
LOS ANGELES – The Clippers (22-11) dropped their third straight game Monday night, overcoming a double-digit deficit only to see the lead evaporate in the final minutes, playing without a majority of their starting lineup against the Nuggets (13-18).
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 106-102 loss.
1) Three starters out, cautious with hamstrings– Hamstring injuries held out Chris Paul for the third straight game and J.J. Redick for the first time, leaving the Clippers shorthanded, already dealing with the loss of Blake Griffin (knee procedure) for the next few weeks. Head coach Doc Rivers said unlike a sprained ankle, the Clippers need to be more cautious with hamstrings. “You just can’t take a chance,” Rivers said. Paul, Griffin and Redick were all in attendance on the bench.
2) Crawford, Rivers, Johnson join starting lineup – In a typical regular season game, the Clippers will focus on themselves more than what the opponent’s doing. “It’s just about you, how you play,” Doc Rivers said. With three injuries to starters, that changes. “This way, you’ve got to do a lot of different things,” Rivers said. Mostly, it’s about finding whatever they think will work for that particular night, which means changes in the starting lineup. Monday, the Clippers went with Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford and Wesley Johnson joining Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan in the starting lineup. Crawford (24 points, six assists) and Rivers (19 points, five assists) led the way offensively.
3) 17-point deficit overcome – It was a game of runs, as a late first-half 16-2 run for Denver put the Nuggets in control at halftime, leading by 17 points and shooting 51.1 percent from the floor at the time. The shorthanded Clippers, however, responded out of the break with a 10-0 run to start the third quarter, and with a Crawford 3-pointer in the final seconds, the Clippers went to the fourth quarter trailing by just two.
4) Bass/Speights provide second-half spark – The Clippers tied it up within the first 20 seconds on a dunk from Brandon Bass, who finished with a season-high 11 points. Bass and Marreese Speights provided a second-half jolt off the bench, with the latter hitting big shots and adding energy. With a Speights free throw midway through the fourth, the Clippers had opened up a six-point lead. But when the starters returned, it disappeared again. The Nuggets ended the game on a 17-7 run, including a couple big shots from center Nikola Jokic, who scored 24 points. Austin Rivers ended up playing 42 minutes, and the Clippers had just three guards available. Doc Rivers said he thought the Clippers just didn’t have a lot left by the end of it.
5) Glass woes – The Nuggets already have a starting five with size. Playing without Griffin, that size becomes more noticeable. After allowing 13 offensive rebounds to the Lakers, rebounding was an issue in the first half Monday, with the Nuggets doubling up the Clippers on the glass, 29-14. In the first quarter, the Nuggets took eight more shots than the Clippers because of that, and by halftime the Nuggets had eight second-chance points while the Clippers didn’t have any. Denver finished with 13 more rebounds on the night.
What’s Next? – The Clippers start a three-game road trip Wednesday in New Orleans.